The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research uses primary sources, archaeology, oral histories and satellite technology to uncover the fate of the first English settlers to North America. In 1587, a group of English colonists on Roanoke Island disappeared, leaving behind a single clue – the word "CROATAN" carved into a tree. The Croatan were a group of American Indians who lived nearby.
The Lost Colony Center for Science and Research is discovering some of the newest and most interesting findings of what happened to the Lost Colonists of 1587. The Center's researchers now believe that the English colonists merged with the Croatan Indians and were assimilated. The center is working on identifying present-day descendants. The Center also is negotiating the final stages of an agreement with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation to be the new DNA partner. The partnership would offer free DNA testing to anyone who meets specific surname requirements.
The DNA project, the largest ever performed, is targeting people with either the colonists' or Native American surnames. According to the Center's Director Fred Willard, there are 160 names the Center is tracking, and they "are very focused on 100 of these."
To support their research, Willard and his team have found land deeds and marriage licenses that support the colonists merging with the Indians. The names recorded in these documents along with the rosters from the English voyages are the names of interest. When he tracked the names on the deeds, he found residents in present-day Chocowinity, East Lake, and Gum Neck, carried some of the same surnames.
"We are hoping to track the families as they moved," said Willard, which in turn would give information as to where the colonists dispersed. My hypothesis is the lost colonists merged with the Croatan Indians and were assimilated and over time the Croatan Indians changed to Hatteras Indians," said Willard.
Willard is hoping the DNA project will locate people with Native American ancestry, connect English families to the Lost Colonists genealogically, and track the population migration.
With the new partnership, the DNA testing would occur in three phases. The first phase, after 300 tests have been performed, will result in a preliminary study that will "match people living far away with people that never moved," said Willard.
The second phase, after 600 tests, or an estimated three years, will include people from England that have never been to North America. To perform those tests, Willard said his team may have to travel to England.
If the first two phases are successful, Willard said the Center will attempt to obtain a permit from the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) that would allow archaeologists to excavate Native American remains for DNA testing.
You can read more about this project at the Lost Colony Center for Science and Research web site at http://www.lost-colony.com.